'Policy makers should focus a little bit on secondary cities like Mbarara, Jinja, Masaka, Mbale and others to decongest Kampala'
By Eddie Ssejjoba & Subaiha Nakandi
The Uganda Urban Expo 2018 has been launched with an appeal to policy makers to focus on promoting secondary cities for regional balanced growth and relieve Kampala capital city of the challenges of urban migrations.
The expo, organised by the Urban Authorities Association of Uganda (UAAU) in conjunction with the ministry of lands and urban development is scheduled take place in Jinja between 5th and 9th September this year. It is intended, among other reasons, to discuss means of attracting investments and business opportunities in intermediary cities away from the capital for balanced development.
The UAAU chairperson who is also the mayor of Jinja Municipality, Hajj Majid Batambuze, said in Uganda and Africa at large, focus has always been put on developing capital cities, which had made them grow faster, leading to booming populations and rural-urban migrations.
He said focus on the capital cities had been done at the expense of secondary cities and had resulted into development challenges including, high population, informal settlements, traffic congestions, high levels of crime and other negativities.
“Secondary cities too, can play a role in the development of the country because they make a link between the capital city and the rural areas and provide an opportunity to balanced regional development,” he said at the launch of the 2018 Expo at Hotel Africana on Friday.
Batambuze observed that focus on the capital city in Uganda, for example, had resulted into unbalanced development, with Kampala and its surroundings experiencing much higher development, which he said had attracted migrations from the countryside.
“We believe that policy makers should focus a little bit on secondary cities like Mbarara, Jinja, Masaka, Mbale, Arua, Lira, Gulu and others, which will help alleviate some of the problems faced in Kampala,” he said, adding that people would find no reasons of flocking to the city when they get the same opportunities elsewhere.
According to Batambuze, the overriding theme was to promote secondary cities, which he said would play a role if well developed and could triple the Growth Domestic Product (GDP) of the country.
He appealed to investors to open up investments and businesses outside Kampala, which he said would create opportunities for the rural people.
“Some investors believe that Uganda starts and ends in Kampala, we want to convince them that they can still make money by investing in secondary cities,” he explained.
PIC: Mabala signs on the Uganda Urban Expo 2018 logo at Hotel Africana
The commissioner for lands, Samuel Mabala, said by 2050, more than half of the population of Uganda will be living in urban centres and therefore, the quality of urbanisation would matter a lot.
He, however, said there was need to plan how to deal with the challenges of urbanisation.
Joel Mandua from the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDP) appealed to all local governments to support the Urban Expo through which they would engage the private sector for investment opportunities,
He said the local governments would help its people get employment opportunities through attracting private investments other than lobbying for creation of more districts and municipalities.
PIC: Batambuze speaking during the launch of the Urban Authorities Expo 2018 at Hotel Africana in Kampala